Chicken Champions

I Made Ina Garten’s Famous Roast Chicken (and Here’s What You Should Know)

updated Nov 17, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Chicken Champions: All month long, Kitchn is battling off the four classic chicken recipes everyone needs this time of year: pot pie, soup, roast chicken, and showstopper chicken. (It’s our version of March Madness: Chicken Edition!) Here’s Ina Garten’s take on our battle: roast chicken.

If there is one thing Ina Garten is known for, it’s her roast chicken. It’s her signature dish for Friday night supper with Jeffrey, and anyone and everyone who’s ever made it raves about it. (Five stars! 1,000+ reviews!)

Yet despite the accolades and fanfare, I’d never actually made her version before. My go-to roast chicken recipe is actually Jacques Pepin’s — I’ve stuck with it for years for its sheer simplicity. But lately I’ve been less enthusiastic about it because of problems with the skin sticking to the skillet and lack of crispiness. So I decided to give Ina’s a try.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

How to Make Ina Garten’s Roast Chicken

While the oven preheats to 425°F, you have just enough time to prep the chicken for roasting. You start by generously seasoning the inside of the chicken before stuffing it with thyme, garlic, and lemon, and tying the legs together. The chicken is brushed all over with melted butter and seasoned with salt and pepper before being placed on a bed of onion, fennel, carrots, and more thyme. Pretty classic.

Ina tells you to roast the chicken for 90 minutes, then to transfer the chicken and vegetables to a platter, cover with foil, and rest for 20 minutes before slicing.

What I Thought of the Results

In short: This recipe was perfect. I mean, I get it now. I see why Ina’s roast chicken is so legendary! And in case you’re thinking “roast chicken is roast chicken,” as I once did, I’m here to tell you that this is not just any roast chicken recipe. In classic Ina fashion, she’s taken a timeless dish and worked her magic to make it the best version of itself.

Once I took it out of the oven, the first thing I noticed was the perfectly browned, crispy skin. (The mark of a truly good roast chicken, if you ask me.) I couldn’t wait and pulled a piece off as soon as it was cool enough. It was everything I hoped for — crispy, fatty, salty. The real highlight might just be all those aromatics stuffed inside the chicken, which make for meat that’s tender, juicy, well-seasoned, and infused with just the right amount of subtle fragrance. The whole thing hit all the high notes you want and expect in roast chicken, and was as close to technically perfect as you can get.

(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

If You Make Ina Garten’s Roast Chicken …

1. You can get away with using a large cast iron skillet. The recipe calls for a roasting pan, which I’ve never used for roast chicken before, and if your pan is large it might feel a little overkill for a five-pound chicken. For simplicity’s sake, I think you could get away with a 12-inch cast iron skillet instead.

2. Pile the vegetables under the chicken. As many of the commenters noted, it’s a good idea to pile the vegetables under the chicken, rather than scattering them around the pan. Not only does this move prevent them from burning, but they also pick up tons of extra flavor from the chicken drippings.

3. Add other root vegetables to the pan. The recipe calls for onion, fennel, and carrots, but there’s no reason you have to stop there. Go ahead and include other thick-cut root vegetables like parsnips, red potatoes, or sweet potatoes.

Overall Rating: 10 out of 10

From the crispy skin and tender, juicy meat that’s subtly infused with lemon, herbs, and garlic, to the charred edges on the root vegetables, this chicken is flawless. And it’s my new go-to recipe for roast chicken.

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